Many people experience trauma after a car accident and may exhibit signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates that 40% of people who suffer serious injury in a car crash show signs of PTSD during the first year following the crash. This is due largely to the fact that an accident is a major event that can result in catastrophic injuries or the loss of life.
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
Post-traumatic stress disorder can develop when an individual experiences a terrifying or life-threatening situation. People who suffer from this often relive the traumatic events or they may avoid the people or places that remind them of the event. Often times, the person may be unable to drive again without experiencing extreme anxiety or panic attacks. Vehicular accidents can leave the injured person with post-traumatic stress symptoms, which may include:
- Having flashbacks or feeling that the event is happening all over again
- Physical reactions when reminded of the event, such as nausea, rapid breathing, increased heart rate or profuse sweating
- Experiencing nightmares or inability to fall or stay asleep for any length of time
- Angry outbursts for no apparent reason
- Lost interest in activities or hobbies the person once enjoyed
- Hyper-vigilance or feeling a constant need to be on the alert
- Depression and the inability to leave the house or drive a car again
- Abusing alcohol or drugs to mask the feelings or pain
Victims may show symptom weeks, months or even several years after the incident. When left untreated, it can have devastating consequences on the sufferer and keep them from being able to function normally in life. It can also have dire effects on their relationships with their families, friends and co-workers.
Proving PTSD After the Accident
A psychologist should evaluate anyone who has been seriously injured or witnessed traumatic events due to a car accident. PTSD is a condition that is marked by clear and significant psychological and physical changes. Recent studies show that PTSD can be objectively diagnosed using magnetoencephalography (MEG). This is a non-intrusive tool that measures the magnetic fields in the brain. In the January 2010 edition of the “Journal of Neural Engineering”, researchers at the University of Minnesota published a study that identified a biological marker in the brains of people exhibiting common symptoms of PTSD. The paper claims that by utilizing this technique, MEG can identify PTSD patients with a 90% accuracy rate. Accident victims may be able to use this imaging technique in order to support their client’s claims. The defendant in a lawsuit often fights the diagnosis of PTSD because if proven, it can significantly increase the amount a victim can recover in a settlement.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A victim who experiences trauma after a car accident may be able to seek compensation for their debilitating psychological injuries. Experiencing trauma can leave people with long-lasting physical and mental emotional scars. Even though it may seem difficult to prove a claim for PTSD, an experienced personal injury attorney may be able to assist you in obtaining damages for the injuries you received.